In Memoriam

Jerry & Esther Krueger

Two of our original Board of Directors, Jerry and Esther Krueger, passed on in 2023. Both were enthusiastic, tireless workers who especially loved to spread the word of the Festival by passing out flyers and posters all along the beachside as each Festival approached.

Jerry and Esther were married 75 years, and, like most inseparable couples, passed within months of each other in 2023. They moved to Daytona Beach to live closer to family in the area. These two stayed active rom when they met in 1946, with a life full of extraordinary careers behind them and a busy schedule in Daytona working with WISE (Wisdom In Senior Education) at Daytona State College as well as our Festival. Jerry was also treasurer of Temple Israel.

Jerry was a WW2 veteran who served in the Army Air Corps as a flight radio operator. When the war ended in 1945, he had just two years of college under his belt. Through the GI Bill, he was able to attend Rutgers University Law School on an accelerated program that allowed him to obtain his law degree in two years. During this time, his aunt met the mother of his future wife Esther, who provided her number to him. Esther was a Cadet nurse who had trained to be a registered nurse during the war. A week later, Jerry’s brother had tickets to a Dinah Shore show in New York City but required Jerry to bring a date. He decided to call Esther to see if she would join him. She said she would only go if he met her in person, so he went to the hospital where she was working in New Jersey. They walked around the grounds during her break that day. That day marked the beginning of their over seven-decade relationship. The two were married in 1947 and had their first of three children in 1948.

Jerry practiced law for many years. Esther went back to school to get her BA degree and taught at Jersey City State college. She received her master’s at Montclair State College and doctorate at Columbia University. She taught at Kean University in New Jersey, retiring in 1965. While working at his private practice, Jerry was asked to run for councilman of Linden, NJ; he won the position and served for two years. He was then elected as President of the City Council and later was elected to the State of New Jersey legislature for a year. With this experience, he became the city attorney for the city of Linden for almost 30 years while still maintaining his private practice. Jerry retired at the age of 91.

The key to a healthy and happy life and marriage, Jerry would say, “is to have love, mutual respect, encourage each other in whatever they want to do, meet new people, enjoy your relatives and friends, engage in meaningful activities and stay involved with your community.”

Jerry and Esther will be missed.

Claire Soria

MAY 22, 1935 – SEPTEMBER 12, 2023

We have been honored to have Claire Soria as a spokesperson who shared her experiences as a Holocaust survivor with us at the last three Jewish Heritage Festivals.

Claire considered herself one of the lucky ones. Claire Soria would light up the room with her presence. Our speaker room would be standing room only. As she told her story you couldn’t hear a pin drop.
Once after a speech, a 7 year old girl asked her, “Why do you not hate, especially after all the hatred you have seen in your life?” She looked deeply into this young girl’s eyes and said “If you hate, they win.” She loved to share her story and showcase her unshakable, positive attitude with hope and confidence in the good of people everywhere.

Claire Soria (born May 22, 1935) was a young child living in Brussels, Belgium when the Nazis sent tanks down her street and replaced the Belgian flags with the Nazi flags.

Once the Nazis took over, Jewish children like Claire were banned from attending school. All Jews were forced to wear a yellow star of David and were restricted from doing ordinary activities such as
meeting with each other, worshiping the Jewish religion, and shopping after dark.

Claire’s father Nathan/Nachman Mytnowiecki was a tailor who was secretly involved with the underground resistance. Claire’s mother Sara asked a neighbor, a Christian couple, Lea and
Lambert Sabaux, if they would hide Claire and they agreed.
Nathan and Sara were arrested and deported to Auschwitz where they ultimately perished.

This elderly righteous gentile couple risked their lives hiding Claire, raising her as their own
granddaughter. The Sabauxes were musicians — Lea, a former concert pianist, and Lambert, a
drummer — who instilled in Claire a lifelong love for playing piano.

After the war, Claire was sent to the US near Cleveland to live with her aunt and uncle at the age of thirteen. She struggled to adapt and bounced around during her teenage years, not
speaking any English but eventually found the love of her life, Gerard Soria, and had three children. She also took that learned passion and became a beloved community piano teacher. Claire is survived by her children

Robert, Rita and Maxine – as well her eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Claire Soria passed away on September 12, 2023, surrounded by the family she persevered to create. We will never forget her.

For Claire’s complete story as told by her, you can find the Born To Remember podcast.